Old age psychiatry concerns itself with mental health problems in the elderly. It is a growing speciality due to the ageing population which is leading to an increase in the numbers of people over the age of 65 years.
The most common worries for those who are growing elderly, or those who care for them, is the loss of cognitive function associated with the various types of dementia. Public attention to the problem of dementia has been highlighted by the personal stories of prominent persons such as Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Terry Pratchett and Iris Murdoch.
Research into dementia, its causes and also possible treatments are becoming a national priority. Treatments are currently available that can provide symptomatic relief for some of the problems associated with dementia, but sadly no cure has yet been found.
Other well known mental illnesses such as depression and psychosis may occur for the first time in older persons. The causes of the illnesses may be different to those in younger adults as may their treatments.
Old age psychiatry has overlapping frontiers with other medical specialities including neurology and geriatric medicine, and concerns itself with complex presentations in many medical conditions where symptoms may be due to side effects from medication, or due to co-morbid mental health problems such as depression.
Old age psychiatrists are skilled in dealing with complex presentations of mental illness in the elderly. This expertise extends to capacity assessment and other medical specialities look to us for advice in complex situations, as do solicitors who may need help in clarifying capacity issues in patients or seek joint assessments to witness documents where necessary.
If you are worried about dementia or other mental health problems for yourself or someone you care about, please contact us to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your options
The internet provides a rich source of information some recommended sites are listed below:
- The Royal college of Psychiatrists has a helpful section on mental illness in the elderly: http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mentalhealthinfo/alzheimersanddementia.aspx
- The Alzheimer’s Society website is a rich source of information: http://alzheimers.org.uk/
- The Dementia Challenge is hosted on the Department of Health website which also provides information on the Mental Capacity Act: http://dementiachallenge.dh.gov.uk/
This is leading to a growing interest in the study of dementia, a problem which is actually becoming a global challenge.